Ground No. 226
Visited - Saturday 26th March 2011
Result - Clyde 2-0 Montrose
Competition - Scottish Football League Division Three
Attendance - 725
Opened in 1994, Broadwood is one of the newest grounds in Scotland, so it was a bit of a surprise when in December 2010 Clyde announced that they were looking to leave it for pastures anew. A statement on the clubs website suggested that the terms of their lease were so restrictive that it was financially unfeasible to carry on playing at the ground and that the only solution was to move elsewhere. Political wrangling for more favourable terms, perhaps, but it’s without question that their current outlook is as bleak as at any point in their history.
Formed on the banks of the River Clyde in Bridgeton (Glasgow), they started out life in 1877 (the same year as Wolves!) with a friendly fixture against fellow Glasgow side Third Lanark, losing 3-1 before facing the same opposition again two weeks later in the Scottish Cup, once more suffering defeat albeit by an improved scoreline of 1-0. Undeterred, the club pressed on, and joined the Scottish Football League in 1891, gaining promotion to Division One in 1905, having won the Second Division the previous season (these were days before automatic promotion). Between these times, the club had moved south of the river and set up home at Shawfield in 1898, developing the ground to hold 50,000 spectators. It had originally been planned to build a 100,000 capacity ground on the site, but the development of both Ibrox and Hampden put paid to that, although the ground did at one point hold the record as the largest venue in Glasgow. During the war, for safety reasons, crowds were restricted to a maximum of 10,000 by each local authority. Clyde, however managed to bend the rules thanks to the Glasgow/Lanarkshire boundary passing right through the ground, meaning they could attract up to 20,000 people for a game whilst both Old Firm sides could only pull in half of that!
It was to be Shawfield though that would ultimately ruin the club, and put them in the position that they find themselves in today. In 1926, the directors wanted to bring greyhound racing to the stadium to increase revenue, but a clause restricted them in doing so. To get around it, they set up their own separate company, and by 1932 had gained permission to start racing, before selling the deeds to the stadium to this new company in 1935. All well and fine in principal, with directors on both boards, and the club remaining as tenants, but it would eventually come back to haunt them in the 1980s when the greyhound company, mutual interests less compatible by this point, gave them notice to quit as they opted to cash in on the land by selling it off to developers, thus leaving the club homeless.
In fairness, the fifty years between those points had been largely favourable for the club, winning the cup in 1939, and twice more during the fifties, whilst retaining a steady top flight record for most of that time, so it hadn’t been an altogether bad move given that they were on the verge of liquidation in 1930, however when they were finally evicted from Shawfield in ‘86, it was to prove to be the start of their downfall, moving first to Firhill to groundshare with Partick, before switching to Hamilton in 1991. There was some talk of them taking over Rosebery Park, not far from Shawfield, instead though they decided to accept the offer from North Lanarkshire Council to move out to Cumbernauld and tie down roots in the new town some 15 miles north east of where they called home.
A move out of Glasgow had been mooted some time before, way back in 1966, when slum clearances saw most of the local population moved out to areas like East Kilbride, with the club nearly following them. It’s been said that this might have been a better move, even in the 80s, with Cumbernauld having been populated with people from Celtic areas, and 16 years on, perhaps that opinion holds some weight with it seeming like the town have never really taken to them, with crowds never having been what they had hoped a 50,000 population could give them.
So, with no revenue raising facilities at their council owned ground, and a lack of potential support, it looks like the club could end up returning to their roots, and with this in mind I’d managed to take advantage of some cheap rail tickets to travel up and pay a visit to Broadwood whilst the club still call it home.
Setting off early, the journey went by fairly quickly, arriving into Glasgow at 11am. Once there I decided to have a walk down to Shawfield first, the ground still there as it was when the club moved out, the plans to redevelop it having fallen through, with greyhound racing remaining to this day. By all accounts it was falling down when the club left in 1986, and it doesn’t look any better now 25 years on, so any talk of a return seems problematic without paying for large scale rebuilding. Having had a quick walk round, then it was back into the city before catching the train out to Croy and heading off on the 20 minute walk down to the ground.
Situated right on the edge of the town, I never even made it into Cumbernauld itself, and despite new housing estates growing up around it, you can’t say that the ground really feels like it’s at the heart of a community, so it’s understandable why the club have struggled to find a foothold here.
Walking in to the site, you come to the Main Stand first, sitting beyond a large car park at the bottom of a small dip of land. Fairly imposing it contains the grounds main reception and club shop just next to it. The South and West Stands are of similar size and design, albeit with some impressive steelwork protruding from the rears. The north end, once open, is nowadays taken up by a leisure centre that should the club wish to stay would restrict any expansion at this end. One notable feature are the unusual turnstiles, which instead of holes in the wall, are semi-circular ‘huts’ jutting out from the stands.
Only the Main Stand was open, so after going in and taking a few more pics, there was time to have a look at the ground. The West and Main Stands are more or less identical, running the length of the pitch. Both single tier stands, the Main Stand is different only with having a row of executive boxes to the rear. The South Stand behind the goal is similar, whilst a large wall (the back of the leisure centre) at least makes the northern end feel closed in as opposed open as it could. Whilst the description might make it sound like a boring three sided Shrewsbury-esque ground, what sets it apart and makes it more pleasing on the eye are the roofs of the stand. I’ve long held the opinion that this is what makes modern grounds feel dull, but with big chunky fascias, the roofs here at Broadwood are imposing and give the stands the shape of a building, much like the pitched roofs of stands in older times. It might not sound much, but it does make a difference in my view and give the feel of a football ground far more than not having it.
Anyway, sports architecture aside, there was another reason for visiting, and that of course was to see a match here. Montrose were the visitors, and having beaten Clyde 8-1 earlier in the season at Links Park, then revenge was in the air as the teams took to the field (with that welcome Scottish tradition of dashing straight from the tunnel to their positions ready to kick off within 30 seconds instead of the poncing around shaking hands nonsense and staged entrance that delays game for a good five minutes before kick-off in England, even at non-league level)
The visitors got the game underway, but it was Clyde who looked the brighter early on, Jamie McCluskey doing well down the left hand side to get into the box before firing a shot over. Several minutes later he hit a shot against the bar, before in the 20th minute the goal eluded him again, this time smashing the ball against the post from a good 30 yards out, but whilst he couldn’t get on the scoresheet, his teammate John Stewart could, knocking in the rebound to put the hosts ahead. Montrose had lost their manager in the week, and they looked a team short on confidence, but they did create several chances for themselves, notably from Stephen McNally whose over-hit cross from the right nearly looped in at the far post, but it was to stay 1-0 at the break.
After half time, Clyde had a glorious chance to double their lead almost immediately when Marc McCusker had a great through ball played to him in space with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot was poor and straight at Graham Girvan who was able to push the ball away with little trouble. After that, Paul Tosh went closest for the visitors in the 70th minute with a classy little chip from the edge of the area that went just over the bar, before the hosts killed the game off with ten minutes to go courtesy of Willie Sawyers who was unmarked in the box to head home a cross from Kevin Finlayson after some good work down the left from the winger, to give the ‘Bully Wee’ their first victory of the month.
After leaving, I made my way back to the station, and straight onto a train to Glasgow without any waiting, glad to have made the long journey north to tick off a ground that may not be around for as long as it should be.
Whilst the sums have to add up for all clubs, it would be a shame to lose Broadwood. It might not have a particularly great reputation amongst either home or visiting supporters, but I kind of liked it, more than I thought I would! Whether it will prove to have been a ground built in the wrong place, or whether it has a future remains to be seen. One suspects that the problems will be overcome and the club and council will come to a deal that benefits both, although reading through the programme it seems that even the club themselves have never quite accepted the move, with one page seeming to refer to themselves as a Cumbernauld based side, whilst the next described themselves as a Glaswegian team! Multiple personality disorder maybe, now if only they could turn that into multiple fans coming through the gate then maybe the crisis will be averted!
Welcome to Shawfield!
Rear of the Main Stand
Welcome to Broadwood
Rear of the Main Stand
The Club Shop
The Leisure Centre at the North End
Rear of the West Stand
Rear of the South Stand
The Main Stand
The South Stand
The West Stand
The North End
The North End
The Main Stand
Ready for Kick Off